Lawrie Beilin interview, 18 December 2012

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Lawrie Beilin interview, 18 December 2012




Emeritus Professor of the University of Western Australia and Emeritus Physician at Royal Perth Hospital, Lawrie Beilin was born in London in 1936. He came to Australia from Oxford with experience in Los Angeles. During the interview he talks of coming to Perth, becoming Professor of Medicine at the Royal Perth Hospital Campus for the University of Western Australia and Consultant Physician at Royal Perth Hospital from 1977 until his retirement from these positions at the end of 2011. Beilin gives his impression of the university that he saw in the late 1970s and speaks at length of the important people associated with the development of the University of WA and its good reputation and current high position in world rankings, including John Newnham, Fiona Stanley, Barry Marshall, Robin Warren and others. He also talks of his personal role models in the early days of his study experience and speaks of how they influenced his thinking and career. He talks of teaching and how he has tried to influence the careers of others. He speaks of the importance of funding to research and discusses examples of successful coordinated studies including the Raine Population Study.


Beilin, Lawrie


UWA Historical Society


Copyright holder University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral history

Oral History Item Type Metadata


John Bannister


Lawrie Beilin


Perth, W.A.


Interview 1: 50 minutes, 38 seconds
Interview 2: 51 minutes, 39 seconds
Interview 3: 36 minutes, 53 seconds
Total: 2 hours, 19 minutes, 10 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Track 1
00:00:00 Lawrence Joseph Beilin born in London 1936. London Jewish Hospital, Stepney. Born in the sound of Bow Bells. Schooling London MBS 1959. Opening eyes to research Hampstead Hospital. House Officer and Senior House Officer. Sir John Michael. Hypertension and related problems. Colin Dollery. Ormond Street Paediatrics clinical practice. Interest in Paediatrics and research. Kings College lecturer. Memories of John Anderson. Douglas Monro teaches experimental methods.
00:04:55 Getting into medicine. Interest in performing on the stage. Shyness. Personal teachers at Kings College. Father wants to be a Doctor. Role models and sentient human beings. Mentors inspire. Listening to people. Class structure in London, minorities. Development to teaching and research.
00:13:00 Research Monro integrity. Research with patients, responsibility as junior residents. Training. Differences to Australia. Experience outside of Britain. Experiences of Los Angeles. Postgraduate medical school. Reader Professor of Medicine at Oxford University. George Pickering.
00:21:20 Writing clearly. Richard Doll epidemiologist, links with lung cancer. Richard Pito and Chris Redmond – work on preeclampsia. Career structure in England. Job in cardiology at Canada. Memories of Oxford. Bringing up children. Dennis Wade and coming to Perth. Bruce Armstrong. Jim Patterson.
00:26:55 Reputation of UWA in the 1970s. Austin Doyle on Perth and development potential. Opportunity to set up a new department. Charles Gairdner Dick Joske. Chairs and academic staff. Leaving Oxford. Jewish community in Perth.
00:32:15 Community. Raine study and research funding. Cardiovascular Centre and funding NHMRC grants. Bob Vandongen and laboratory research.
00:36:00 Directions. Setting up good research, population research. Advancing medical practice. Understanding high blood pressure. Understanding and treating cardiovascular disease.
00:38:15 UWA research community. Bruce Armstrong, vegetarians, high blood pressure. John Mathews, stroke and drinking. Seventh Day Adventists and health. Grants and data studies. PhD Student Peter Arkwright. Alcohol and blood pressure. Ian Puddey and low alcohol consumption.
00:43:20 Collaborating with John Mazeri. The high level of clinical facilities at RPH vs Radcliffe infirmary. Comparison of RPH Laboratory, clinical services, Post graduate training standard to Britain. Modest research conditions. Getting good clinical research going with Armstrong.
00:45:35 Student numbers and mentorship. Staff had more time to teach. Administration and other pressures. Major issues and other changes. IT and personal secretaries. Nurturing of students at UWA. Neuromuscular, Lions, WAMA and Children Institute. Growth and academic appointments. Fremantle, Sir Charles Gairdner Royal Perth. Democratised personal Chairs.

Track 2
00:00:00 The academic centre learning and research. Interaction with departments. Isolation academically in the 1970s and 1980s. Armstrong. Collaboration. Major changes in departmental level. Public health and population health. Active research nationally and internationally. Matt Newman. The Busselton Study Raine study.
00:03:46 Bes- known medical studies coming out of Australia. Increase in size and reputations across Australia and internationally. Increasing cross faculty collaboration and growth. Agriculture and medicine. State government funding for diabetes and obesity. WAIMR. Randomised control trials. Major collaboration and major funding. Collaboration results in good research.
00:06:50 NHMRC, research funding, CSIRO, WAIMR. Encouragement of collaboration, reduction of research. International universities and financial incentives. Reputation of agriculture, medicine and chemistry.
00:09:00 Major changes and research growth. International standing and travel. Sharing knowledge, networking. Encouraging students’ work. Mutually supportive, collaboration in Hypertension. WA physically isolated.
00:13:20 Increase and acceleration of UWA’s position in 1990s and 2000s. Bruce Robinson and mesothelioma. Ian Constable and the Lions Institute. The Children’s Institute and Fiona Stanley. Immunological research has high reputation. Dawkins, Bren Christianson, Martin French. Murdoch University. Parochial issues. Institute growth. Lions Eye and Children’s Institute and Neuromuscular Research Institute. Nigel Laing.
00:16:44 Personal research and visits. Hypertension and vegetarianism. Salt, obesity, alcohol. Vegetarian and blood pressure. Bruce Armstrong. Population study and Seventh Day Adventists. Ian Rouse and Mormons. Randomised controlled diets. Dash diets.
00:21:56 Vegetarianism and blood pressure. Argon and amino acid. Research, publication and recognition. Barry Burke. Consensus meetings. WHO. Involved in guideline publications. National guidelines.
00:27:15 Growth of personal research. The culture of research has declined. Barry Marshall. Fellowships. Good students and good backgrounds in the 1980s. Gradual development.
00:32:20 Academic appointments. People working together vs. isolation. Postdoctoral involvement and voluntary work. Kevin Croft. Collaboration and biochemistry and John Le Mesurier. Increasing reputation and interest in UWA through the 1980 - 90s. Teaching hospitals Royal Perth Hospital and Charles Gairdner. Promotion and chairs.
00:38:20 Memories of Bruce Armstrong. Michael Hobbs and the public health. Ian Conrad. Max Kamien a controversial figure. University and the rural community. Notre Dame University into the rural community.
00:42:26 Memories of Fiona Stanley and the children’s institute. Aboriginal child health. Pat Hobbs. Acceptance of indigenous people. Impact on undergraduates. Academic research on aboriginal communities. Geriatric medicine. International reputation. Ian Puddey. Peter Dobson. Medical research foundation and possible opportunities.
00:47:00 Translating knowledge - example of the eye institute. Con Michael and the Raine study. Landau, Newnham and Stanley. Raine foundation. Raine committee and broadened research. Research growth Craig Burnell and the Raine study. John Newnham. Hospitals.

Track 3
00:00:00 Control and change of curriculum. Resistance of heads of dept. Impressions of drop out rate. Lou Landau. Accreditation of the Medical Department.
00:04:35 Louis Landau and Ian Puddey and the establishment of the medical education facility. Fiona Lake and the advancements of medical education in the state. The relationship of staff in hospital to staff of university. Charles Gairdner relationships strained.
00:09:30 University’s place on the international scale. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren. Neville Stanley’s view of the isolation of Perth and the university. Attracting first class applicants to chairs at the university. Globalisation and ranking. NHMRC success rate has dropped. Competition for funds and attraction of academics to Perth.
00:14:00 Paul Johnson’s views on change. Faculty and the University needs to adapt. Advancing knowledge. The push forward of the University. Fiona Stanley and the Children’s Institute. Marketing, publicity. Ian Constable and the Lions Eye Institute. Alan Robson’s legacy, Paul Johnson. Smith and his foresight of funds. The campus and biomedical research.
00:20:55 Other important people. The management of the RAINE research funds. The renewal of first class researchers. WAIMR relationship and opportunity. Government investment funding. Other obstacles. Competitiveness and amalgamation.
00:24:35 Order of Australia Medal. Fantastic collaboration. Kevin Croft, Trevor Mori, Dan Barden, Kay Cox, Jonathon Hobson. Ian Puddey Dean of the Faculty. Bruce Armstrong, John Mazeri. Other important people Alex Cohen and John Stokes. Collaboration of the teaching side. Valerie Burke, Dick Joske, Ian Rouse. Anyone who gets an AO is underpinned by others.
00:28:00 University’s prime focus on education going out into the world. Encouraging younger people. Working with the orderlies and staff. Career encompasses many things. Reflections.
00:34:30 Looking forward and prospects for the university. Thoughts about ranking. Being amazed at what is going on.



Beilin, Lawrie, “Lawrie Beilin interview, 18 December 2012,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed December 5, 2023,